Essex punks Bilk channel their raw energy and unapologetic attitude into their triumphant self-titled debut album, a feverish, no-bullshit indie rock record full of charm, charisma, angst, wit, catchy licks, and cathartic singalongs.
for fans of Arctic Monkeys, Nirvana, The Clash, Oasis
Stream: “Fashion” – Bilk
It’s just us. It’s real and it’s honest and there’s no bullshit or pretenses about it. What you hear is what you get.
Punk music isn’t just a sound; it’s a give-no-fucks mentality, and Bilk are the band to carry the punk torch forward in the 2020s.
Lately there’s been a prime opening for a new fiery, fast-talking, hard rocking band to rise up and rally us, and the Essex trio have had their hands raised high for the past five years. One of Atwood Magazine‘s 2023 Artists to Watch, Bilk channel punk’s spirit in their songs, each of which is as much a statement of intent as it is a rip-roaring outpouring of sonically and emotionally charged energy. Bilk don’t care much about what your or I think of them or their music; they’re here to do what they do best, and if you’re into it, come join in the ruckus. If not, there’s the door.
But not many people are heading for the door these days. Bilk have found their sound at the marriage of noughties indie rock, punk, and Britpop, and the result is something truly singular and spectacular. The band channel their raw energy and unapologetic attitude into the self-titled Bilk, a feverish, no-bullshit debut album full of charm, charisma, angst, wit, catchy licks, and cathartic singalongs.
I like clothes just as much as the next
But I don’t need a magazine
to tell me how to dress
I won’t wear your brands
I’m pale not tanned
I ain’t got drip I am a drip and
I’m sick of seeing all this influencer girls
‘Cause all they do is make people
feel worst about themselves
Trying to be someone else
is just a waste of who you are
If everyone would follow these twats
the world would be bizarre
So no more rules, fashion
No more fitting in
No more head scratching
‘Cause I’m just me
And that’s all I can be
– “Fashion,” Bilk
Released February 10, 2023 via Scruff of the Neck Records, Bilk is easily one of the best debuts of the year – a standout full of instantly memorable one-liners, punchy verses, and soul-stirring choruses – not to mention an exhilarating introduction to a band everyone ought to start getting to know now.
Hailing from Essex, UK, the indie-punk trio of Sol Abrahams (guitarist and lead singer), Luke Hare (bassist), and Harry Gray (drummer) have stormed the indie scene over the past five years, making a name for themselves through their breathtaking, ear-splitting live shows as well as their EPs Chipped Out (2019) and Allow It (2021). The past year has seen the band building up hype for their first full-length album, unveiling a steady slew of singles that speak to the core of who Bilk are, and what they’re all about.
This album is a definitive milestone and a resounding triumph for Bilk, who spill their souls while throwing every punch they’ve got into a record that hits hard and leaves a lasting mark.
“We’ve released a couple EPs and singles before the debut album, experimenting with sounds and influences and shit,” frontman Sol Abrahams tells Atwood Magazine. “The process before the album was just us growing as a band and as people, finding ourselves and our sound. This album is Bilk to a T, from the songs to the production to the lyrics. We think it’s the best shit we’ve done so far.”
“It’s just us,” he adds. “It’s real and it’s honest and there’s no bullshit or pretenses about it. What you hear is what you get. The vision was to make a great rock n roll album. It has a load of influences behind it from the Arctic Monkeys’ early stuff to Nirvana. The vision didn’t really change going into it, but I did write a few songs and lyrics whilst recording the album like the song ‘Be Someone,’ which came about whilst we were in the studio.”
The album title (and therefore the band’s name) is something of a story in itself – one that captures both the band’s background, as well as their no-holds-barred mentality. “My dad’s a London cab driver, and one day he came home from work and told me he had been bilked by a customer,” Abrahams recalls. “I didn’t know what bilk meant so I asked him and he said it means when you run off from a taxi without paying the fare. I just thought it sounded cool, so we went with Bilk.”
While they themselves would never bilk a cabbie, there is something undeniably “punk” about this band name that somehow translates all-too perfectly into the music itself. Bilk starts off on a high note with the explosive album opener “Daydreamer,” a high-octane rework of the same song that kicked off their debut EP just a few years ago. “Look look look, look it’s all cool it’s all fine, went to get chips and my card got declined,” Abrahams sings in the eye of a steamy storm of overdriven guitars and heavy, dynamic drums. “Government pay, minimum wage, working at a call centre every single day. Been there done that, mate fuck that, ’cause now I’m poor and I wanna get my money back.” This is iconic punk rock at its finest; an eruption of built-up emotion that simply can’t be cooped up inside any longer.
“The lyrics talk about everything from failed relationships and being skint, to the housing crisis and the governments attitude to the working classes,” Abrahams explains. “It’s about wanting to get away from the stresses and worries of every day life and daydreaming about it.”
Look look look look it’s all cool it’s all good
Maybe things ain’t turned out as they should
Kicked out of classes
None of my questions are answered
So I go out and get plastered
Memes on Twitter is my past time
Being a lazy twat is my star sign
Staring at my phone screen til my neck bends
Nothing going on for me too much time to lend
Bored out of my mind so I call up my friend
Boris chatting shit on the tele again
Think about the youth, think about the kids
We all get older and got nowhere to live
But these posh politicians they don’t give a shit
Always daydreaming for a better life
Working 9 to 5 makes me wanna cry
And as I sit on the toilet alone
I’m a daydreamer, daydream
Things ain’t always what they seem
If you’re just like me
See those tags on the wall
We’re all just trying to be cool
Society’s waste of time
‘Cause there’s no future for you and I
Highlights range from the searing churn of “Hummus and Pitta” and the anthemic raised-fist pulse of “Things Ain’t Always What They Seem,” to the hopeful, fiery resolve of “Brand New Day” and the smile-inducing in-your-face sonic punch of “Fashion,” the latter of which truly showcases the raw depths of Bilk’s fast-rising talent.
Through radiant melodies and witty, cutting lyrics, “Fashion” inspires individuality and encourages us to be ourselves. “I like clothes just as much as the next, but I don’t need a magazine to tell me how to dress,” Abrahams declares from the jump, going on to decry the influencer and brand-driven state of the world. “I’m sick of seeing all these influencer girls, ’cause all they do is make people feel worse about themselves. Trying to be someone else is just a waste of who you are.” The song’s chorus is its own form of anarchy as Bilk declare a new kind of fashion – one that embraces uniqueness and originality over trends and mass homogeneous conformity:
no more rules, fashion
no more fitting it
no more head-scratching designs
just me, and that’s all i can be
That chorus lyric – “I’m just me and that’s all I can be” – is a personal favorite for Abrahams. “It’s something not to forget,” he says. “’Fashion’ is about not conforming to what’s considered cool or popular and just being yourself, telling anyone who don’t like it to do one. I used to try to put myself in boxes and fit in a lot and I wrote this song when I just said fuck it, I’ve had enough. All I can be is myself.”
Bilk stand out by inspiring us to stand out, and the end result is outstanding.
Not only are they punks; they’re punks with a cause. Uncompromising and relentless, Bilk is a resounding statement of intent, and one that establishes Bilk as a band with attitude, a band with passion, and a band with their fingers on the pulse of the moment.
If they’re the voice of the new counter-culture, then count us in; already on the rise at home and abroad, Bilk have set themselves up for success with their debut album, and 2023 is set to be their breakout year.
I spend too much time getting too deep
I’m laying in this single bed but I can’t sleep
There must be more to life than tinder swipes
And posting shit on Instagram for meaningless likes
Where I’m from there’s teen mums sipping booze
Whilst the baby takes twos on her b and h blues
The boys are in gangs the girls push prams
And spend all their money on some shitty fake tans
I know I’ve got to get away
Tomorrow is a brand new day
I know I’ve got to get away
It’s ok, ’cause it’s a brand new day
– “Brand New Day,” Bilk
“I don’t know what people will take from it,” Sol Abrahams muses. “I suppose they’ll just take whatever they take from it. If people relate to it and feel it then great. My job is just to put out the music.”
To their credit, Bilk are doing a great job. Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Bilk’s Bilk with Atwood Magazine as Abrahams goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of the band’s self-titled debut album!
Stream: ‘Bilk’ – Bilk
:: Inside Bilk ::
“Daydreamer” is just about wanting to get away from the stresses and worries of every day life and daydreaming about it. The lyrics talk about everything from failed relationships and being skint, to the housing crisis and the governments attitude to the working classes.
Hummus and Pitta
“Hummus and pitta” is about a night out. I wrote it based off my experiences going out in Essex and partying whilst away with the band. It details a typical British night out and all the chaos that comes with it.
Things Ain’t Always What They Seem
“Things ain’t always what they seem” is about the fakeness of people and all the bullshit you get in life. I can be quite cynical because I’ve found that a lot people are fake and are only out for themselves.
“Be Someone” is about my journey in music. I wrote it whilst we was in the studio recording the album because it was a point where life was getting to me and I thought “fuck this I’m gonna make it happen”
It’s No Longer There
I wrote “It’s no longer there” about an old mate. We were inseparable but we grew apart and through that experience, I wrote that song.
Brand New Day
“Brand new day” is about the possibilities of tomorrow. It details my day to day life in Essex and the struggles I might go through, but ultimately it’s saying tomorrow is a new day and everything can change.
Just Don’t Work for Me
I wrote “just don’t work for me” when I had this on and off fling with this girl. She kept fucking me about so I wrote the song in the predicament of not wanting to be with her but also being really into her.
“Fashion” is about being yourself and not giving a fuck what people think about it. It’s about not giving in to what’s considered “cool” or “popular” and just doing you.
Part and Parcel
“Part and parcel” is about growing up and facing the reality of life. In the song I talk about how easy and simple life was when you was a kid and reflecting on those simpler times.
“Stand Up” is a protest song. It’s saying stand up to our corrupt government and don’t put up with their shit. It’s also anti-war. I wrote it after seeing all these depressing stories on the news and being fed up with our current government.
I wrote “10 o’clock” when I was in a quite a low and lonely place. In the song I talk about being out on my own at night at the local park and just getting really deep about shit.
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© Liam Maxwell
:: Stream Bilk ::